It is a common sight: hunched-over children lugging around bags to and from school that look as big as them. It’s criminal – literally. A child carrying a school bag more than 10% of their body weight is against the law.
In addition to that limit based on body weight, The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, also says that schools need to provide storage spaces such as lockers and cupboards. That lets children keep at least some of their property there and they aren’t forced to heave their belongings on their backs all day.
However, most schools do not provide these facilities to children, who usually end up carrying up bags that weigh up to 30% of their body weight. Heavy text books, exercise books, lunch boxes, stationery and water bottles all add up to a significant amount. The Times of India estimates that children between six and twelve years of age usually carry a weight of seven to ten kilos in their backpack every day.
This doesn’t just translate into a daily discomfort for your children, which is enough reason to take action. There are also the long-term health consequences to take into account. The weight puts pressure on the still delicate spines of growing children. It can lead to an increased risk of back problems and improper spinal growth, especially in younger children.
Paediatrician Abhijeet Dutta told ToI, “Children who are between four and 12 have a slower growth rate than those who have reached the puberty. Therefore, carrying a heavy weight can be more damaging for them.”
Lessening the burden of going to school would make it more fun for children. It is also the legally required thing to do. The responsibility is on schools to take action to reduce the weight in schoolchildren’s bags and schools should be held accountable. Depending on the age of the students, they should also get proper lockers or storage systems.
Parents can also take action by investing in a good schoolbag with good strap cushioning and that spreads the weight across the shoulders.
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